Social media madness, mental health, and our environment in crisis all get shouted about in this month’s Hot Topic
This month’s Hot Topic touches on some tough stuff – mental health, shame, and the separation of the human and the organic are all picked over pretty well – but there’s some light at the end of the tunnel too, honest.
Get started below with some achingly good electronics from ANOHNI, and finish up with Community, excellently aggressive hardcore from Sheffield.
ANOHNI - HOPELESSNESS
Last month I completely lost the plot and managed to miss out a lot of politicised stuff that got a lot of press, including PJ Harvey’s album-length commentary on marginalised communities, The Hope Six Demolition Project; Gruff Rhys’ loveletter to the EU, I Love EU; and Novelist’s aggressive David Cameron-sampling instrumental, Tax the MPs. I’m sure I missed out a lot of other stuff too, but we can’t all be perfect all the time, can we lads?
Determined not to miss out this month, I introduce to you ANOHNI’s HOPELESSNESS, which in its astonishing breadth encompasses eleven splintered, grand experimentally electronic songs that challenge environmental issues, Obama’s presidential career, patriarchal structures, and more. These mini-epics are all narrated by the vastness of emotion and range of ANOHNI’s remarkable voice. It’s a stunning snapshot of just a handful of 2016 anxieties, carefully felt, written, and orchestrated.
My favourite song is Why Did You Separate Me From The Earth, which as well as giving me some serious Colors of the Wind chills, features the best vocal performance on the album.
Kehlani - 24/7
Kehlani really has been through some shit recently. After being ‘outed as a cheater’ by her bad egg of a ex-boyfriend in an Instagram post, she was subject to a barrage of internet hate (particularly from notorious evil-doer Chris Brown who insisted she was ‘flexing for the gram’) that lasted days. In the wake of the abuse, which was markedly gendered and aggressive, the RnB singer-songwriter attempted suicide.
It was touch and go for Lani for a sec, so to hear her sounding better than ever on this track from the very beginning of this month is extremely inspirational. This month also welcomed Mental Health Awareness Week on the 16th, and it was a reminder of how hard, but important, it is to chat about your bad days turning into a bad month, or even a bad year so far. The sheeny social media world is a lie – as Kehlani sings here, “It’s okay to not be okay / To dive in your pain / And it’s alright to not be alright / To search for your light.”
We featured an artist on the site this week who discussed all these ideas around social media and shame with accessibility and humour this week, too. Check out the work of Matt Dickson here.
Sonny & The Sunsets - White Cops on Trial
While we in the UK see the aftermath of the highest profile police killings in US via our social media feeds – the tragic deaths Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and Mike Brown have all seeped into our collective consciousness – less reported assaults don’t tend to reach us on the same scale.
That’s why songs like this are so important. Sonny & The Sunsets draw focus on a spate of shootings of unarmed black and Latino men by San Francisco Police in this deceptively laid-back guitar pop tune, using the genre’s reputation for less serious pursuits to highlight the fury that’s bubbling in the city right now.
“Why can’t we seem to put him away?” sing the band, as if reporting from the courthouse. “We have found him guilty because we are insane / Blah blah blah blah blah, we’re crazy.” A clever, satirising prayer for justice, especially affecting in the wake of this news.
Post Pink - I Believe You, OK
Back at it again with the feminist guitar music, here’s Baltimore’s Post Pink.
The album maintains a frustrated tautness from start to finish, veering from (as the name suggests) straight up-and-down post-punk to garage rock: jarring, arty guitar-lines glance off directional bass and shallow drums, keeping time to vocalist Angie’s snarls and occasional harmonisation with the rest of the four-piece. Lyrics bat quickly from sexual disappointment (“You can’t do me like I want you do me / So why don’t we do something else?”) to the problems of putting girls on pedestals (“You put me, put me too high to fall”).
Glittoris - Belly Ache
Glittoris are self-identifying “sassy punks that give a fuck” from South Carolina. Belly Ache features the bratty Valley Girl vocals of Katie Sheridan chewing out the laziness of a meaningless blob of a dude over driving punk chords, culminating in Sheridan gargling “Your whining makes me cringe / Rejecting you is effortless / You fucking empty narcissist”, after accusing him of having “pussy envy” no less than four times.
This was originally released on their gnarly EP I Feel Weird…, but it’s being re-released as an addition to Women and Kittens First, a forthcoming fundraising record for Connecticut-based cat shelter, Cat Tales.
Animals! Screaming! A punny name! Glittoris are definitely a band after my own heart.
Demo - Community
Since when do demos sound this good?
Community are a quartet of angry people from Sheffield who’ve channeled their angst into this five-song punch of aggressive hardcore that touches on some very modern madnesses: social media ‘communities’ (“I saw the best minds of my generation / Lost beneath a sea of blue thumbs”), the 9-5 nightmare (“Grey suits, blue ties / It’s no surprise / Cats hiss as you pass by”), and twenty-somethings’ insistence on a sick sense of arrested development (“…play with your cars, or your video games / We’re mountains of human waste / I hate us all the same”) are all tarred with the same scathing brush.